By Lauren Aubert
In our present day, equestrian show fashion is more form fitting, sweat-wicking, and breathable than ever before. Breeches come in a variety of rises and colors, some even deemed appropriate to wear to a fancy dinner or a night in town. Show jackets are available in endless styles, with a rainbow of colors, trims, and pipings, and can be found off-the-rack or custom-created. Show shirts are made with an elastic, stretchy material, ensuring full mobility of the arms and shoulders on and off the horse. Collars and cuffs are discretely designed with intricate patterns and rich colors, where they can be folded over to reveal their beauty, and buttoned up while in the show arena. The number of small businesses, tack stores, equestrian empires, and high-end boutiques carrying the latest fashions are limitless. There is a style for everyone, regardless of age or gender!
A rider’s show jacket is arguably one of the most customizable pieces on the market, coming in every color under the sun. It can be designed in any way to fit a rider’s needs, whether conservative and classy for the equitation, or flashy and crystal-studded for the jumper ring. Hidden vents within the jacket is also a trendy option. Coming into the summer months, the days are long and the show hours are even longer, especially when the competition begins early and ends late.
Owning a ventilated jacket is important when taking off your jacket is not an option. They are often more form-fitting than their heavy wool counterparts because they are usually lightweight and thin to promote airflow, allowing them to contour to the body. In the hot months of summer showing, the lightweight, breathable jacket trend is seen on all show circuits- local, a-rated, and everything in between. It is not only fashionable, but serves a purpose by absorbing sweat and increasing air circulation throughout the body. Coats like the Alessandro Albanese Motion Lite Jacket, the Charles Ancona show jacket, and the Sarm Hippique Antea Classic Show Coat provide ventilation because they are made out of a light, technical material, rather than the tropical wool traditionally used to make hunt coats.
If you prefer the classic appearance of the wool jacket, but want one that will not smother you in the heat of summer, the Winston Devon jacket is the perfect pick. Made with a light tropical wool and detailed with colored piping across the pockets, it is fitted to your body and readily available at retailers across the country. Adding colored piping onto a jacket to make it your own is also popular with equestrians. Jackets with this detail can be found off-the-rack, or custom-made to your liking. Most hunt coat companies offer a variety of piping and stitching colors to incorporate into a coat, starting at around two-hundred dollars or more.
Finding the perfect show shirt to wear under your jacket is easier than it used to be thanks to the number of new trends now available on the market. With hundreds of options readily stocked online and through retailers, the once simple button-up white shirt comes in with long sleeves, short sleeves, or even sleeveless. A common trend with riders of all levels is to include patterns, ventilation, and designs in places where they can be seen while wandering around the horse show grounds, but invisible when a jacket is thrown on and the cuffs and collar are done up. Innovative brands like Essex Classics, Tredstep, and Ariat offer mesh paneling under the sleeves or along the sides of the torso for ventilation, along with bright, trendy patterns where they cannot be seen while showing.
A “tuxedo shirt” is also popular on the show circuit, where two blocks of color parallel to each other run vertically down each shoulder, stopping at the bottom of the shirt. The area around the collar is left white, and the rest of the shirt is invisible when a show coat is worn. Other times the body of the shirt is left white and the sleeves are colored. Brands like Le Fash, Kathryn Lily Equestrian, Cavalleria Toscana, and Asmar Equestrian all carry shirts with this style.
Wearing correct-fitting breeches while showing in the summer will most likely affect the way you feel when you ride, as styles that are ill-fitting can quickly become hot, sticky, and uncomfortable when worn for long periods of time. Breathability is just as important in pants as it is in shirts and coats. Through the eras, our sport has seen rust, olive green, even canary colored breeches come into fashion. Tan is currently the most popular color among equestrians (or white for Sunday’s jumper classes) and comes in an array of sizes, fits, and styles. You can choose between front zip or side zip, back pockets or front pockets, both, or completely pocketless. They are often decorated with designs on the front or back pockets.
Styles that move with the rider are commonly seen on equestrians (another fashion trend) as they are comfortable and allow for maximum movement. The Equiline line of breeches can be spotted on riders in the pony hunter classic to the high junior jumpers. Designed with knee patches made out of either the standard, suede-like material or a silicone-like, grippy one, they are especially known for their stretch and comfort. In addition, brands like Sarm Hippique and Tailored Sportsman are regularly seen on the show circuit, featuring a flattering silhouette with elastic fabric available in the appropriate colors.
Although equestrian trends come and go, comfort never goes out of style. We are athletes, and the fit and elasticity of our clothes matters just as much as a gymnast’s leotard would for the floor exercise or a runner’s compression shorts would during a marathon. The creation of breathable, stretchy fabric is a blessing to the equestrian world, allowing a rider to perform unrestricted by their clothes. Wearing a perfectly tailored show jacket, a bold show shirt, or a flattering pair of breeches not only looks beautiful and well put together, but adds to a rider’s confidence. With the number of show style options available for purchase in tack stores, online, and at horse show vendors, the perfect outfit comes in many forms, colors, and styles.